‘Junior ministers ignored in Cabinet’
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Day after MoS must be given more importance, say Trinamool leaders.
A day after they quit the Manmohan Singh Cabinet, former Trinamool Congress ministers of state — all except Mukul Roy — Saturday complained about the way junior ministers are treated.
The attitude towards ministers of state, they said, must be changed if effective governance is to be ensured.
"MoS portfolios are virtually non-functioning and this is why they are not given much importance in governance. This attitude should be changed and they should be given more responsibilities. This issue was raised by our leader Saugata Roy in a meeting with the Prime Minister," said Sudip Bandyopadhyay, the former MoS, Health. "I had heard the Prime Minister too had the same feeling. I had also heard the PM had agreed to hold talks with MoS portfolio holders once a month. But in my tenure, I have not seen any such meeting."
Bandyopadhyay, however, quickly added that he had a cordial relationship with his boss, Health Minister Gulam Nabi Azad
Sultan Ahmed, who was MoS for Tourism, has quite a few grievances. "The views of MoS are often undermined. This should not happen," Ahmed said. "I had serious differences with the Centre about privatisation of properties of ITDC. I objected to the manner of appointment of ITDC chairman. I have seen that benefits of funds released for promoting tourism does not reach the grassroots due to lack of adequate supervision. I was in favour of putting in place a strong system to monitor utilisation of fund. There was a confrontation between me and the Centre on this issue."
Saugata Roy, the former MoS for Urban Development, was more muted. "The bad thing is that Cabinet ministers do not always let the MoS to take decisions independently. Initially, I too faced some trouble. Files were not sent to me but later, except files related to the Delhi division, I used to receive other files. I have no grievance on this issue but I strongly feel that MoS should be given more importance and liberty," he said. "When issues like NCTC and Lokayukta came up, I had strongly opposed the Centre's attempt to interfere in state government's affairs. During my tenure as MoS, 25 new projects under JNNURM were launched and after Trinamool came to power in Bengal, 11 new schemes were approved by the Ministry of Urban Development. You can call it an achievement."
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